Misperception 6 Among Gay Men of the Risk for AIDS Associated With Their Sexual Behavior*
Laurie J. Bauman Karolynn Siegel Department of Social Work Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
From the time it was determined that AIDS was communicable through intimate sexual contact, the principal public health strategy for limiting the spread of the disease has been education -- to disseminate information concerning the sexual practices implicated in transmitting the AIDS virus (HIV). Campaigns to reach people at highest risk for AIDS -- homosexual men, IV drug users, and sexual partners of high-risk individuals -- have included brochures, one-to-one counseling, mass-media advertising campaigns, and public lectures. Many of the strategies designed to persuade those at high risk to adopt safer-sex practices were based on conceptual models of the factors associated with the adoption of preventive health practices, such as the Health Belief Model (HBM; Leventhal, Meyer, & Nerenz, 1980; Leventhal, Safer, & Panagis, 1983), the Fear-Drive Model ( Leventhal et al., 1983), and the DualProcess Model ( Leventhal et al., 1983).
The Health Belief Model is the conceptual framework most widely used to explain health-related preventive behaviors ( Kirscht, 1983). According to this model, the dimensions that influence the adoption of a health action are: (1) perceived susceptibility or vulnerability to developing a health problem; (2) perceived severity of the illness; (3) perceived benefits of the change; (4) perceived barriers or possible negative effects of the change; and (5) cues or a stimulus to change, such as a symptom or a health communication ( Janz & Becker, 1984). The Fear-Drive Model posits that "the fear produces subjective discomfort or tension which motivates action" ( Leventhal et al., 1983).____________________